RAC1 nitration at Y32 IS involved in the endothelial barrier disruption associated with lipopolysaccharide-mediated acute lung injury

Ting Wang, Manivannan Yegambaram, Christine Gross, Xutong Sun, Qing Lu, Hui Wang, Xiaomin Wu, Archana Kangath, Haiyang Tang, Saurabh Aggarwal, Stephen M. Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Acute lung injury (ALI), a devastating illness induced by systemic inflammation e.g., sepsis or local lung inflammation e.g., COVID-19 mediated severe pneumonia, has an unacceptably high mortality and has no effective therapy. ALI is associated with increased pulmonary microvascular hyperpermeability and alveolar flooding. The small Rho GTPases, RhoA and Rac1 are central regulators of vascular permeability through cytoskeleton rearrangements. RhoA and Rac1 have opposing functional outcome: RhoA induces an endothelial contractile phenotype and barrier disruption, while Rac1 stabilizes endothelial junctions and increases barrier integrity. In ALI, RhoA activity is increased while Rac1 activity is reduced. We have shown that the activation of RhoA in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-mediated ALI, is dependent, at least in part, on a single nitration event at tyrosine (Y)34. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine if the inhibition of Rac1 is also dependent on its nitration. Our data show that Rac1 inhibition by LPS is associated with its nitration that mass spectrometry identified as Y32, within the switch I region adjacent to the nucleotide-binding site. Using a molecular modeling approach, we designed a nitration shielding peptide for Rac1, designated NipR2 (nitration inhibitor peptide for the Rho GTPases 2), which attenuated the LPS-induced nitration of Rac1 at Y32, preserves Rac1 activity and attenuates the LPS-mediated disruption of the endothelial barrier in human lung microvascular endothelial cells (HLMVEC). Using a murine model of ALI induced by intratracheal installation of LPS we found that NipR2 successfully prevented Rac1 nitration and Rac1 inhibition, and more importantly attenuated pulmonary inflammation, reduced lung injury and prevented the loss of lung function. Together, our data identify a new post-translational mechanism of Rac1 inhibition through its nitration at Y32. As NipR2 also reduces sepsis induced ALI in the mouse lung, we conclude that Rac1 nitration is a therapeutic target in ALI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101794
JournalRedox Biology
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Acute lung injury
  • LPS
  • Nitration
  • Rac1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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